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US Scientists Make Major Electric Car Battery Breakthrough

image credit: Chao-Yang Wang’s Lab, Penn State

A Penn State University team have developed an EV battery capable of fully charging in only 10 minutes.

One of the largest negatives for potential buyers of electric cars is “Range anxiety” - the fear of running out of power before being able to recharge an electric vehicle. Now that may be assuaged, as team of Penn State University engineers have built lithium iron phosphate batteries that can power an EV to a range of 250 miles with the ability to charge in 10 minutes instead of hours.

“We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles," said Professor Chao-Yang Wang, director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State, "There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable."

The key to long-life and rapid recharging is the battery's ability to quickly heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for charge and discharge, and then cool down when the battery is not operating.

Wang's team modeled this battery using existing technologies and innovative approaches. They suggest that using this self-heating method, they can use low-cost materials for the battery's cathode and anode and a safe, low-voltage electrolyte. The cathode is thermally stable, lithium iron phosphate, which does not contain any of the expensive and critical materials like cobalt. The anode is made of very large particle graphite, a safe, light and inexpensive material.

Because of the self-heating, the researchers said they do not have to worry about uneven deposition of lithium on the anode, which can cause lithium spikes that are dangerous.

"This battery has reduced weight, volume and cost," said Wang. "I am very happy that we finally found a battery that will benefit the mainstream consumer mass market."

The only issue with this new technology, assuming it scales up to a commercial product, is the further stress it will put on utilities' power demands. While a few of these fast-charge batteries will not strain the network, if there are lots of them, and many users recharge at the same time (for example, 6 pm as they return from work), then there will be a spike in consumption which will be difficult for power suppliers to manage easily.

Julian Jackson's picture

Thank Julian for the Post!

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John Benson's picture
John Benson on Jan 27, 2021

Hi Julian:

Good post. I'll need to dig into this further.

As far as the last paragraph's "...only issue...", this has already been solved. 

Most EV owners tend to charge in the evening, as you have indicated, and my utility (PG&E) offers a tariff with much lower rates if they schedule their charging between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM, when grid loads are very low. Go through the link below for more information. 

ELEC_SCHEDS_EV (Sch).pdf (

I assume that the above-described batteries can charge at a somewhat lower rate, as would be required for existing residential service and distribution systems.

I also assume that fast-charging will be performed at a commercial charger. Here, the charging infrastructure would need to include a battery energy storage system (BESS) with high peak demand capability. This is already required for a charging station with a large number of fast-chargers. The BESS is also useful for storing energy off-peak and using it on-peak, and also alleviating peak-demand restrictions on charging stations' distribution system.



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